While wearing dental braces, it is important to consider what you eat and drink because it can affect your overall oral health. Since many folks encounter difficulty keeping their teeth clean while wearing dental braces, it is important to limit sugar intake during treatment to reduce the likelihood of developing common oral health conditions including tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease. Following is some helpful information on the importance of reducing your consumption of sugar and its effects on your wellbeing during orthodontic treatment.
Sugar and Oral Health
Sugar is bacteria’s natural source of food. When you drink or eat something that contains sugar or starch, it will attract oral bacteria—especially harmful oral bacteria. Sugar and its many derivatives including corn syrups and some alcohol-based sugars will serve as a source of food for bacteria. When bacteria feed, they colonize. As bacteria colonize, they release acid as a byproduct (which weakens teeth) and leads to the formation of plaque. Accumulation of plaque can contribute to tooth decay—especially if tooth enamel is thin or damaged. If plaque is not removed by proper brushing and flossing, it can ultimately harden into tartar, which is a major contributor to gingival inflammation and subsequently, infection of the gums.
Oral Hygiene and Dental Braces
While wearing braces, many patients have difficulty keeping plaque and tartar accumulation at bay. This is because ligatures, wires, and brackets can impede one’s ability to remove debris and bacteria as effectively as they did without dental braces. While oral hygiene is more difficult with braces, it is not impossible to keep your teeth and gums healthy. We recommend that patients take a very mindful approach to oral hygiene and make enough room in their schedules to thoroughly brush and floss so that they do not rush through their oral hygiene regimen.
For those without braces, the American Dental Association recommends brushing for at least two minutes. If you encounter difficulty brushing around your orthodontic appliances, you might want to give yourself an extra minute or two to thoroughly brush your teeth. Flossing your teeth will take a little longer as well because you will need to thread your floss behind the archwires of your dental braces. Some patients may want to invest in interdental cleaning devices such as water irrigators to help clean between teeth. When it comes to oral hygiene, be sure to speak with a member of our staff or our orthodontist if you have any questions or difficulties with cleaning your teeth.
Even though wearing braces might make oral hygiene more difficult at times, it is important to brush and floss vigilantly to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Along with proper oral hygiene, curbing your sugar intake will help reduce your risk for oral disease during treatment.
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